In several of the scenes The menu, by Mark Mylod, food is the center. So much so that the sequences include the name of the dish that is presented on the screen and its list of ingredients. But it is not a matter of obviousness, but rather a dangerous recombination of symbols. In this extraordinary tasting that ends up being something more macabreeating has a deep meaning.
Also the pleasures or memories it produces. Unsatisfied desires and the perception of threat. All on an elegant plate, with gourmet portions. The “concept” food, as Margot (Anya Taylor Joy) calls it, the only guest out of a complex list of small coincidences that make up the group of diners.
Food, the art of developing an experience through the palate, becomes, in production, a total idea. In a concise perception about what satisfies us, fills us and, in the end, what gives us a moment of unforgettable — and unrepeatable — pleasure.
In The menu, eating is something more than a delight, than the mere exercise of swallowing and fighting the urge of hunger. It is also the announcement of the tragedy, a powerful and well-crafted construction about what is hidden in the contemporary obsession with status. What happens when privileges, great fortunes, the countless sins of greed are our letter of introduction?
In several of the scenes in The Menu, by Mark Mylod, food is the focus. So much so that the sequences include the name of the dish that is presented on the screen and its list of ingredients. But it is not a matter of obviousness, but rather a dangerous recombination of symbols. In this extraordinary tasting that ends up being something more macabre, eating has a deep meaning. Also the pleasures or memories it produces. Unsatisfied desires and the perception of threat. All on an elegant plate, with gourmet portions. “Concept” food, as Margot (Anya Taylor Joy) calls it, the only guest out of a complex list of small coincidences that make up the group of diners.
A succulent invitation to intimate darkness
The menu takes place on the periphery of something more painful. Who are we, stripped of artifice, luxury and petulance? The story tells a small version about greed, the contemporary desire for the unattainable and indefinable. What is opulence, in a culture obsessed with everything money can buy? Perhaps for that reason, what defines Hawthorne, an extraordinary enclave in which an unbeatable menu is promised, is the unattainable quality of him.
What more could the exclusivity that the modern world aspires to ask for? the restaurant of The menu it floats like an insular space, oblivious to the rules of the world. Or that seems to make the immediate message clear that once in your living room the doors are closed to the outside. Beyond lies a wicked feast waiting to be eaten and, at best, appreciated. But not all palates are up to it. In any case, not all diners will understand the real message of this table set for a dark feast.
Only a select group will be able to sit at the table of the magnificent chef, the one and only Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), and savor his amazing creations. The table turned into an object of desire, into one more seat to gain respect and cement the very category of sophistication. It doesn’t matter if the money comes from fame, cheating, theft or speculation.
Any of the diners of The menu he has a dubious past or is even capable of sacrificing his life in the effort to deserve a bite of the works of art created by the master. What is really valuable is having the right to occupy a chair, agreeing to the amazement of being plated and bragging about the possibility of a piece of status.
The menu he plays with an elaborate series of ideas, which he develops with precision and a mischievous sense of humor. The twisted conception of the contemporary self, the need for relevance and validation. But especially, the darkness close to the pain of unfulfilled longing. Mylod’s film is a cohesion of perceptions, as varied and full of different textures as the exotic tasting that the characters will enjoy.
There is nothing simple in this journey that begins with the decision to accept the performative norms of a central kitchen and ends with the condition of life and death. What is the conception of good and evil in a world where the two are confused with alarming frequency? The menu You don’t want to answer something like that. But she does. And, perhaps, his gaze on that consciousness of the corrupt collective self is one of its most solid and well-constructed elements.
Dinner is served
But, beyond his philosophical explorations, The menu is a film obsessed with refined beauty and built on a cold elegance. Food, nourishment, that primary and collective need, is an exploration of pride, vanity and, especially, the supreme and total arrogance of unrealizable desire.
For your second leg, The menu reveals its secrets, but remains enigmatic and reveals great narrative power conjugated to invoke the old desire for exquisite decadence. Food is a vehicle to an end. An older one, more violent, cruel and denigrating than one might suppose. However, it is still the ultimate object of desire and the difference between life and death. The last bite, the ultimate satisfaction, a memory. death itself.
Who are we beyond our sins? MyLod asks again in the last minutes of The menu. Beauty and horror combine to address the macabre that awaits at the bottom of a fulfilled threat. For the film, eating is a pleasure, without a doubt. A gift, the complete donation. In the end, the closed door into the darkness. All in a succulent list in which spilled blood is only one ingredient in the midst of a more sinister combination.